The Small Catechism

Vater-Unser-Catechism-Luther-Brosamer-1550-crop

Woodcut by Hans Brosamer of Christ teaching the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, from the 1550 Frankfurt edition of the Small Catechism of Martin Luther

Martin Luther’s Little Instruction Book
from the Triglot Concordia

by Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Robert Ernest Smith (Translator, 1957-)

Download notebook-ready PDF.

The Ten Commandments: The Simple Way a Father Should Present Them to His Household

The First Commandment

You must not have other gods. (Exodus 20:3)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear, love, and trust God more than anything else.

The Second Commandment

You must not misuse your God’s name. (Exodus 20:7)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will not use His name to curse, swear, cast a spell, lie or deceive, but will use it to call upon Him, pray to Him, praise Him and thank Him in all times of trouble.

The Third Commandment

You must keep the Sabbath holy. (Exodus 20:8)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will not look down on preaching or God’s Word, but consider it holy, listen to it willingly, and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment

You must honor your father and mother. [So that things will go well for you and you will live long on earth]. (Exodus 20:12)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will neither look down on our parents or superiors nor irritate them, but will honor them, serve them, obey them, love them and value them.

The Fifth Commandment

You must not kill. (Exodus 20:13)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will neither harm nor hurt our neighbor’s body, but help him and care for him when he is ill.

The Sixth Commandment

You must not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that our words and actions will be clean and decent and so that everyone will love and honor their spouses.

The Seventh Commandment

You must not steal. (Exodus 20:15)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will neither take our neighbor’s money or property, nor acquire it by fraud or by selling him poorly made products, but will help him improve and protect his property and career.

The Eighth Commandment

You must not tell lies about your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will not deceive by lying, betraying, slandering or ruining our neighbor’s reputation, but will defend him, say good things about him, and see the best side of everything he does.

The Ninth Commandment

You must not desire your neighbor’s house. (Exodus 20:17)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will not attempt to trick our neighbor out of his inheritance or house, take it by pretending to have a right to it, etc. but help him to keep and improve it.

The Tenth Commandment

You must not desire your neighbor’s wife, servant, maid, animals or anything that belongs to him. (Exodus 20:17)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We must fear and love God, so that we will not release our neighbor’s cattle, take his employees from him or seduce his wife, but urge them to stay and do what they ought to do.

The Conclusion to the Commandments

Q. What does God say to us about all these commandments?

A. This is what He says:

“I am the Lord Your God. I am a jealous God. I plague the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who hate me with their ancestor’s sin. But I make whole those who love me for a thousand generations.” (Exodus 20:5)

Q. What does it mean?

A. God threatens to punish everyone who breaks these commandments. We should be afraid of His anger because of this and not violate such commandments. But He promises grace and all good things to those who keep such commandments. Because of this, we, too, should love Him, trust Him, and willingly do what His commandments require.

The Creed: The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to His Household

The First Article: On Creation

I believe in God the Almighty Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Q. What does this mean?

A. I believe that God created me, along with all creatures. He gave to me: my body and soul, my eyes, ears and all the other parts of my body, my mind and all my senses. He preserves them as well. He gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and land, wife and children, fields, animals and all I own. Every day He abundantly provides everything I need to nourish this body and life. He protects me against all danger. He shields and defends me from all evil. He does all this because of His pure, fatherly and divine goodness and His mercy, not because I’ve earned it or deserved it. For all of this, I must thank Him, praise Him, serve Him and obey Him. Yes, this is true!

The Second Article: On Redemption

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, descended to Hell, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Almighty Father. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Q. What does this mean?

A. I believe that Jesus Christ is truly God, born of the Father in eternity and also truly man, born of the Virgin Mary. He is my Lord! He redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, bought and won me from all sins, death and the authority of the Devil. It did not cost Him gold or silver, but His holy, precious blood, His innocent body—His death! Because of this, I am His very own, will live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him righteously, innocently and blessedly forever, just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns forever. Yes, this is true.

The Third Article: On Becoming Holy

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the community of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and an everlasting life. Amen.

Q. What does this mean?

A. I believe that I cannot come to my Lord Jesus Christ by my own intelligence or power. But the Holy Spirit called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers together, enlightens and makes holy the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus in the one, true faith. In this Church, He generously forgives each day every sin committed by me and by every believer. On the last day, He will raise me and all the dead from the grave. He will give eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. Yes, this is true!

The Our Father: The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to His Household

Introduction

Our Father, Who is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:9)

Q. What does this mean?

A. In this introduction, God invites us to believe that He is our real Father and we are His real children, so that we will pray with trust and complete confidence, in the same way beloved children approach their beloved Father with their requests.

The First Request

May Your name be holy. (Matthew 6:9)

Q. What does this mean?

A. Of course, God’s name is holy in and of itself, but by this request, we pray that He will make it holy among us, too.

Q. How does this take place?

A. It happens when God’s Word is taught clearly and purely, and when we live holy lives as God’s children based upon it. Help us, Heavenly Father, to do this! But anyone who teaches and lives by something other than God’s Word defiles God’s name among us. Protect us from this, Heavenly Father!

The Second Request

Your Kingdom come. (Matthew 6:10)

Q. What does this mean?

A. Truly God’s Kingdom comes by itself, without our prayer. But we pray in this request that it may come to us as well.

Q. How does this happen?

A. It happens when the Heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that we believe His holy Word by His grace and live godly lives here in this age and there in eternal life.

The Third Request

May Your will be accomplished. As it is in Heaven, so may it be on Earth. (Matthew 6:10)

Q. What does this mean?

A. Truly, God’s good and gracious will is accomplished without our prayer. But we pray in this request that is accomplished among us as well.

Q. How does this happen?

A. It happens when God destroys and interferes with every evil will and all evil advice, which will not allow God’s Kingdom to come, such as the Devil’s will, the world’s will and will of our bodily desires. It also happens when God strengthens us by faith and by His Word and keeps us living by them faithfully until the end of our lives. This is His will, good and full of grace.

The Fourth Request

Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)

Q. What does this mean?

A. Truly, God gives daily bread to evil people, even without our prayer. But we pray in this request that He will help us realize this and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

Q. What does “Daily bread” mean?

A. Everything that nourishes our body and meets its needs, such as: Food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, yard, fields, cattle, money, possessions, a devout spouse, devout children, devout employees, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and other things like these.

The Fifth Request

And forgive our guilt, as we forgive those guilty of sinning against us. (Matthew 6:13)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We pray in this request that our Heavenly Father will neither pay attention to our sins nor refuse requests such as these because of our sins and because we are neither worthy nor deserve the things for which we pray. Yet He wants to give them all to us by His grace, because many times each day we sin and truly deserve only punishment. Because God does this, we will, of course, want to forgive from our hearts and willingly do good to those who sin against us.

The Sixth Request

And lead us not into temptation. (Matthew 6:12)

Q. What does this mean?

A. God tempts no one, of course, but we pray in this request that God will protect us and save us, so that the Devil, the world and our bodily desires will neither deceive us nor seduce us into heresy, despair or other serious shame or vice, and so that we will win and be victorious in the end, even if they attack us.

The Seventh Request

But set us free from the Evil One. (Matthew 6:12)

Q. What does this mean?

A. We pray in this request, as a summary, that our Father in Heaven will save us from every kind of evil that threatens body, soul, property and honor. We pray that when at last our final hour has come, He will grant us a blessed death, and, in His grace, bring us to Himself from this valley of tears.

Amen.

Q. What does this mean?

A. That I should be certain that such prayers are acceptable to the Father in Heaven and will be granted, that He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and that He promises to answer us. Amen. Amen. This means: Yes, yes it will happen this way.

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism: The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to His Household

I. Q. What is Baptism?

A. Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water contained within God’s command and united with God’s Word.

Q. Where in the Word of God is this?

A. Where our Lord Christ spoke in the last chapter of Matthew (Matthew
28:19): “Go into all the world, teaching all heathen nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

II. Q. What does Baptism give? What good is it?

A. It gives us the forgiveness of sins, redeems us from death and the Devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, just as God’s words and promises declare.

Q. What are these words and promises of God?

A. Our Lord Christ spoke one of them in the last chapter of Mark (Mark 16:16): “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be damned.”

III. Q. How can water do such great things?

A. Water doesn’t make these things happen, of course. It is God’s Word, which is with and in the water. Because, without God’s Word, the water is plain water and not baptism. But with God’s Word it is a Baptism, a grace-filled water of life, a bath of new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul said to Titus in the third chapter (Titus 3:5-8): “Through this bath of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that we, justified by the same grace are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.”

IV. Q. What is the meaning of such a water Baptism?

A. It means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, in turn, a new person daily come forth and rise from death again. He will live forever before God in righteousness and purity.

Q. Where is this written?

A. St. Paul says to the Romans in Chapter Six (Romans 6:4): “We are buried with Christ through Baptism into death, so that, in the same way Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus also must we walk in a new life.”

V. How One Should Teach the Uneducated to Confess

Q. What is confession?

A. Confession has two parts:

First, a person admits his sin.
Second, a person receives absolution or forgiveness from the confessor, as if from God Himself, without doubting it, but believing firmly that his sins are forgiven by God in Heaven through it.

II. Q. Which sins should people confess?

A. When speaking to God, we should plead guilty to all sins, even those we don’t know about, just as we do in the “Our Father,” but when speaking to the confessor, only the sins we know about, which we know about and feel in our hearts.

Q. Which are these?

A. Consider here your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Are you a father? A mother? A son? A daughter? A husband? A wife? A servant? Are you disobedient, unfaithful or lazy? Have you hurt anyone with your words or actions? Have you stolen, neglected your duty, let things go or injured someone?

The Sacrament of the Altar: The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to his Household

I. Q. What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

A. It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink, established by Christ Himself.

II. Q. Where is that written?

A. The holy apostles Matthew, Mark and Luke and St. Paul write this: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the night on which He was betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to His disciples and said: ‘Take! Eat! This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me!’ In the same way He also took the cup after supper, gave thanks, gave it to them, and said: Take and drink from it, all of you! This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you to forgive sins. This do, as often as you drink it, to remember Me!’”

III. Q. What good does this eating and drinking do?

A. These words tell us: “Given for you” and “Shed for you to forgive sins.” Namely, that the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are given to us through these words in the sacrament. Because, where sins are forgiven, there is life and salvation as well.

IV. Q. How can physical eating and drinking do such great things?

A. Of course, eating and drinking do not do these things. These words, written here, do them: “given for you” and “shed for you to forgive sins.” These words, along with physical eating and drinking are the important part of the sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say and what they record, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

V. Q. Who, then, receives such a sacrament in a worthy way?

A. Of course, fasting and other physical preparations are excellent disciplines for the body. But anyone who believes these words, “Given for you,” and “Shed for you to forgive sins,” is really worthy and well prepared. But whoever doubts or does not believe these words is not worthy and is unprepared, because the words, “for you” demand a heart that fully believes.

Appendix I. How a Father Should Teach His Household to Conduct Morning and Evening Devotions.

Morning Devotions

As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, you should bless yourself with the sign of the Holy Cross and say: May the will of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be done! Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, say the creed and pray the Lord’s Prayer. If you wish, you may then pray this little prayer as well:

My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You kept me safe from all evil and danger last night. Save me, I pray, today as well, from every evil and sin, so that all I do and the way that I live will please you. I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy Angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.

After that, with joy go about your work and perhaps sing a song inspired by the Ten Commandments or your own thoughts.

The Evening Devotions

When you go to bed in the evening, you should bless yourself with the sign of the Holy Cross and say:

May the will of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be done! Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, say the creed and pray the Lord’s Prayer. If you wish, then you may pray this little prayer as well:

My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You have protected me, by Your grace. Forgive, I pray, all my sins and the evil I have done. Protect me, by Your grace, tonight. I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.

After this, go to sleep immediately with joy.

Appendix II. How a Father Should Teach His Household to say Grace and Return Thanks at Meals.

The children and servants should come to the table modestly and with folded hands and say:

All eyes look to you, O Lord, and You give everyone food at the right time. You open Your generous hands and satisfy the hunger of all living things with what they desire. (Psalm 145:15-16)

Note: “What they desire” means that all animals get so much to eat, that they are happy and cheerful. Because, worry and greed interferes with such desires.

After this, pray the Lord’s Prayer and the following prayer:

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these gifts, which we receive from Your generous hand, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

_______

This text was translated in 1994 and revised in 2002 for Project Wittenberg by Robert E. Smith and has been placed in the public domain by him. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at:

Concordia Theological Seminary
Email: smithre@mail.ctsfw.edu
Surface Mail: 6600 N. Clinton St., Ft. Wayne, IN 46825 USA
Phone: (260) 452-3149 Fax: (260) 452-2126

The Didache

altar-frontal

Altar frontal 

The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles  

Here is a PDF.

Didache (dih-duh-KAY) is a Koine Greek word meaning “teaching.” It is a catechism, a synopsis of apostolic teaching, and is the oldest record of a catechism we have, dated to the first or early second centuries AD. 

One

1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death; and between the two ways there is a great difference.
2 Now, this is the way of life: “First, you must love God who made you, and second, your neighbor as yourself.” And whatever you want people to refrain from doing to you, you must not do to them.
3 What these maxims teach is this: “Bless those who curse you,” and “pray for your enemies.” Moreover, fast “for those who persecute you.” For “what credit is it to you if you love those who love you? Is that not the way the heathen act?” But “you must love those who hate you,” and then you will make no enemies.
4 “Abstain from carnal passions.” If someone strikes you “on the right cheek, turn to him the other too, and you will be perfect.” If someone “forces you to go one mile with him, go along with him for two”; if someone robs you “of your overcoat, give him your suit as well.” If someone deprives you of “your property, do not ask for it back.” (You could not get it back anyway!)
5 “Give to everybody who begs from you, and ask for no return.” For the Father wants his own gifts to be universally shared. Happy is the man who gives as the commandment bids him, for he is guiltless! But alas for the man who receives! If he receives because he is in need, he will be guiltless. But if he is not in need he will have to stand trial why he received and for what purpose. He will be thrown into prison and have his action investigated; and “he will not get out until he has paid back the last cent.”
6 Indeed, there is a further saying that relates to this: “Let your donation sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give it.”

Two

1 The second commandment of the Teaching:
2 “Do not murder; do not commit adultery”; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; “do not steal”; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant. “Do not covet your neighbor’s property;
3 Do not commit perjury; do not bear false witness”; do not slander; do not bear grudges.
4 Do not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double tongue is “a deadly snare.”
5 Your words shall not be dishonest or hollow, but substantiated by action.
6 Do not be greedy or extortionate or hypocritical or malicious or arrogant. Do not plot against your neighbor.
7 Do not hate anybody; but reprove some, pray for others, and still others love more than your own life.

Three

1 My child, flee from all wickedness and from everything of that sort.
2 Do not be irritable, for anger leads to murder. Do not be jealous or contentious or impetuous, for all this breeds murder.
3 My child, do not be lustful, for lust leads to fornication. Do not use foul language or leer, for all this breeds adultery.
4 My child, do not be a diviner, for that leads to idolatry. Do not be an enchanter or an astrologer or a magician. Moreover, have no wish to observe or heed such practices, for all this breeds idolatry.
5 My child, do not be a liar, for lying leads to theft. Do not be avaricious or vain, for all this breeds thievery.
6 My child, do not be a grumbler, for grumbling leads to blasphemy. Do not be stubborn or evil-minded, for all this breeds blasphemy.
7 But be humble since “the humble will inherit the earth.”
8 Be patient, merciful, harmless, quiet, and good; and always “have respect for the teaching” you have been given. Do not put on airs or give yourself up to presumptuousness. Do not associate with the high and mighty; but be with the upright and humble. Accept whatever happens to you as good, in the realization that nothing occurs apart from God.

Four

1 My child, day and night “you should remember him who preaches God’s word to you,” and honor him as you would the Lord. For where the Lord’s nature is discussed, there the Lord is.
2 Every day you should seek the company of saints to enjoy their refreshing conversation.
3 You must not start a schism, but reconcile those at strife. “Your judgments must be fair.” You must not play favorites when reproving transgressions.
4 You must not be of two minds about your decision.
5 Do not be one who holds his hand out to take, but shuts it when it comes to giving.
6 If your labor has brought you earnings, pay a ransom for your sins.
7 Do not hesitate to give and do not give with a bad grace; for you will discover who He is that pays you back a reward with a good grace.
8 Do not turn your back on the needy, but share everything with your brother and call nothing your own. For if you have what is eternal in common, how much more should you have what is transient!
9 Do not neglect your responsibility to your son or your daughter, but from their youth you shall teach them to revere God.
10 Do not be harsh in giving orders to your slaves and slave girls. They hope in the same God as you, and the result may be that they cease to revere the God over you both. For when he comes to call us, he will not respect our station, but will call those whom the Spirit has made ready.
11 You slaves, for your part, must obey your masters with reverence and fear, as if they represented God.
12 You must hate all hypocrisy and everything which fails to please the Lord.
13 You must not forsake “the Lord’s commandments,” but “observe” the ones you have been given, “neither adding nor subtracting anything.”
14 At the church meeting you must confess your sins, and not approach prayer with a bad conscience. That is the way of life.

Five

1 But the way of death is this: First of all, it is wicked and thoroughly blasphemous: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, sorceries, robberies, false witness, hypocrisies, duplicity, deceit, arrogance, malice, stubbornness, greediness, filthy talk, jealousy, audacity, haughtiness, boastfulness.
2 Those who persecute good people, who hate truth, who love lies, who are ignorant of the reward of uprightness, who do not “abide by goodness” or justice, and are on the alert not for goodness but for evil: gentleness and patience are remote from them. “They love vanity,” “look for profit,” have no pity for the poor, do not exert themselves for the oppressed, ignore their Maker, “murder children,” corrupt God’s image, turn their backs on the needy, oppress the afflicted, defend the rich, unjustly condemn the poor, and are thoroughly wicked. My children, may you be saved from all this!

Six

1 See “that no one leads you astray” from this way of the teaching, since such a one’s teaching is godless.
2 If you can bear the Lord’s full yoke, you will be perfect. But if you cannot, then do what you can.
3 Now about food: undertake what you can. But keep strictly away from what is offered to idols, for that implies worshiping dead gods.

Seven 

1 Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then “baptize” in running water, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
2 If you do not have running water, baptize in some other.
3 If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
4 Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.

Eight

1 Your fasts must not be identical with those of the hypocrites. They fast on Mondays and Thursdays; but you should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
2 You must not pray like the hypocrites, but “pray as follows” as the Lord bid us in his gospel:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us today our bread for the morrow; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but save us from the evil one, for yours is the power and the glory forever.”
3 You should pray in this way three times a day.

Nine 

1 Now about the Eucharist: This is how to give thanks:
2 First in connection with the cup: “We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child, which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever.”
3 Then in connection with the piece [broken off the loaf]: “We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever.
4 “As this piece [of bread] was scattered over the hills and then was brought together and made one, so let your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom. For yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.”
5 You must not let anyone eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptized in the Lord’s name. For in reference to this the Lord said, “Do not give what is sacred to dogs.”

Ten 

1 After you have finished your meal, say grace in this way:
2 “We thank you, holy Father, for your sacred name which you have lodged in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have revealed through Jesus, your child. To you be glory forever.
3 “Almighty Master, ‘you have created everything’ for the sake of your name, and have given men food and drink to enjoy that they may thank you. But to us you have given spiritual food and drink and eternal life through Jesus, your child.
4 “Above all, we thank you that you are mighty. To you be glory forever.
5 “Remember, Lord, your Church, to save it from all evil and to make it perfect by your love. Make it holy, ‘and gather’ it ‘together from the four winds’512 into your Kingdom which you have made ready for it. For yours is the power and the glory forever.”
6 “Let Grace come and let this world pass away.” “Hosanna to the God of David!” “If anyone is holy, let him come. If not, let him repent.” “Our Lord, come!” “Amen.”
7 In the case of prophets, however, you should let them give thanks in their own way.

Eleven 

1 Now, you should welcome anyone who comes your way and teaches you all we have been saying.
2 But if the teacher proves himself a renegade and by teaching otherwise contradicts all this, pay no attention to him. But if his teaching furthers the Lord’s righteousness and knowledge, welcome him as the Lord.
3 Now about the apostles and prophets: Act in line with the gospel precept.
4 Welcome every apostle on arriving, as if he were the Lord.
5 But he must not stay beyond one day. In case of necessity, however, the next day too. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet.
6 On departing, an apostle must not accept anything save sufficient food to carry him till his next lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.
7 While a prophet is making ecstatic utterances, you must not test or examine him. For “every sin will be forgiven,” but this sin “will not be forgiven.”
8 However, not everybody making ecstatic utterances is a prophet, but only if he behaves like the Lord. It is by their conduct that the false prophet and the [true] prophet can be distinguished.
9 For instance, if a prophet marks out a table in the Spirit, he must not eat from it. If he does, he is a false prophet.
10 Again, every prophet who teaches the truth but fails to practice what he preaches is a false prophet.
11 But every attested and genuine prophet who acts with a view to symbolizing the mystery of the Church, and does not teach you to do all he does, must not be judged by you. His judgment rests with God. For the ancient prophets too acted in this way.
12 But if someone says in the Spirit, “Give me money, or something else,” you must not heed him. However, if he tells you to give for others in need, no one must condemn him.

Twelve 

1 Everyone “who comes” to you “in the name of the Lord” must be welcomed. Afterward, when you have tested him, you will find out about him, for you have insight into right and wrong.
2 If it is a traveler who arrives, help him all you can. But he must not stay with you more than two days, or, if necessary, three.
3 If he wants to settle with you and is an artisan, he must work for his living.
4 If, however, he has no trade, use your judgment in taking steps for him to live with you as a Christian without being idle.
5 If he refuses to do this, he is trading on Christ. You must be on your guard against such people.

Thirteen 

1 Every genuine prophet who wants to settle with you “has a right to his support.”
2 Similarly, a genuine teacher himself, just like a “workman, has a right to his support.”
3 Hence take all the first fruits of vintage and harvest, and of cattle and sheep, and give these first fruits to the prophets. For they are your high priests.
4 If, however, you have no prophet, give them to the poor.
5 If you make bread, take the first fruits and give in accordance with the precept.
6 Similarly, when you open a jar of wine or oil, take the first fruits and give them to the prophets.
7 Indeed, of money, clothes, and of all your possessions, take such first fruits as you think right, and give in accordance with the precept.

Fourteen 

1 On every Lord’s Day—his special day—come together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure.
2 Anyone at variance with his neighbor must not join you, until they are reconciled, lest your sacrifice be defiled.
3 For it was of this sacrifice that the Lord said, “Always and everywhere offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is marveled at by the nations.”

Fifteen 

1 You must, then, elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are a credit to the Lord, men who are gentle, generous, faithful, and well tried. For their ministry to you is identical with that of the prophets and teachers.
2 You must not, therefore, despise them, for along with the prophets and teachers they enjoy a place of honor among you.
3 Furthermore, do not reprove each other angrily, but quietly, as you find it in the gospel. Moreover, if anyone has wronged his neighbor, nobody must speak to him, and he must not hear a word from you, until he repents.
4 Say your prayers, give your charity, and do everything just as you find it in the gospel of our Lord.

Sixteen 

1 “Watch” over your life: do not let “your lamps” go out, and do not keep “your loins ungirded”; but “be ready,” for “you do not know the hour when our Lord is coming.”
2 Meet together frequently in your search for what is good for your souls, since “a lifetime of faith will be of no advantage” to you unless you prove perfect at the very last.
3 For in the final days multitudes of false prophets and seducers will appear.
4 Sheep will turn into wolves, and love into hatred. For with the increase of iniquity men will hate, persecute, and betray each other. And then the world deceiver will appear in the guise of God’s Son. He will work “signs and wonders” and the earth will fall into his hands and he will commit outrages such as have never occurred before.
5 Then mankind will come to the fiery trial “and many will fall away” and perish, “but those who persevere” in their faith “will be saved” by the Curse himself.
6 Then “there will appear the signs” of the Truth: first the sign of stretched-out [hands] in heaven, then the sign of “a trumpet’s blast,” and thirdly the resurrection of the dead, though not of all the dead,
7 but as it has been said: “The Lord will come and all his saints with him. Then the world will see the Lord coming on the clouds of the sky.”

Press On

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Original photo by Margaret Clough

Daily Reformation, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17

From the Reformer

Zacharias Ursinus, the chief author of the Heidelberg Catechism, was born at Breslau, July 18, 1534, and studied seven years (1550–1557) at Wittenberg under Melanchthon, who esteemed him as one of his best pupils and friends. He accompanied his teacher to the religious conference at Worms, 1557, and to Heidelberg, and then proceeded on a literary journey to Switzerland and France. He made the personal acquaintance of Bullinger and Peter Martyr at Zurich, of Calvin and Beza at Geneva, and was thoroughly initiated into the Reformed Creed. Calvin presented him with his works, and wrote in them the best wishes for his young friend. On his return to Wittenberg he received a call to the rectorship of the Elizabeth College at Breslau. After the death of Melanchthon he went a second time to Zurich (Oct., 1560), intending to remain there. In the following year he was called to a theological chair at Heidelberg. Here he labored with untiring zeal and success till the death of Frederick III, 1576, when, together with six hundred steadfast Reformed ministers and teachers, he was deposed and exiled by Louis VI…

—Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom

Pulling It Together

It is not that you have made a promise to God but that he has made a promise in you. Have courage! God is at work in you. There is nothing that would please God more than to see his Spirit quickened in you and for you to live up to your potential. So it has yet to be accomplished! Press on in faith—not by sight. Sight will stop you dead in your tracks. Have faith that he will do it! God will have his way with you. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

Struggling with God

Daily Reform, 2 Chronicles 6:24-31

From the Reformer

Therefore there is here again great need to call upon God and to pray: Dear Father, forgive us our trespasses. Not as though He did not forgive sin without and even before our prayer (for He has given us the Gospel, in which is pure forgiveness before we prayed or ever thought about it). But this is to the intent that we may recognize and accept such forgiveness. For since the flesh in which we daily live is of such a nature that it neither trusts nor believes God, and is ever active in evil lusts and devices, so that we sin daily in word and deed, by commission and omission by which the conscience is thrown into unrest, so that it is afraid of the wrath and displeasure of God, and thus loses the comfort and confidence derived from the Gospel; therefore it is ceaselessly necessary that we run hither and obtain consolation to comfort the conscience again.

—Martin Luther, The Large Catechism

Pulling It Together

How can God forgive someone like me? It is a common question and there again, it was being asked by a young disciple. Steve tried and tried to be good enough for God. He had in fact, become quite a Christian, admired by many in the church for his understanding of the Bible, his clever way with words, and his compassion. Yet there was one person for whom he held no compassion despite his knowledge of the scripture. Himself. Why couldn’t he do better? Why couldn’t he overcome his sins? He believed that God forgave sins but could not quite bring himself to truly believe that God would forgive the likes of him. After all, he still sinned; why would God forgive someone as willful as himself? Finally, he left the church because of this unbelief.

Yet God did not give up on him and continued to draw him to himself. Eventually, though he still struggles with sin, he no longer struggles with God. He accepted God’s forgiveness—a pardon that even includes someone like Steve…and you.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers